NFL notes: Playoff Edition

The outcome of the Saints and 49ers game absolutely shocked me. I was pretty confident the Saints would handle the 49ers both offensively and defensively.

I expected their spread offense to force San Francisco out of their base defense and make them less effective, as one of their biggest strengths is in their linebacking crew. The 49ers were able to pressure Brees and force turnovers, which is all you can ask out of your defense when playing New Orleans.

I was very impressed by Alex Smith, who I was still skeptical of coming into the game, but he made a handful of difficult throws and my hat is off to him. Credit to the 49ers for the win, but this was the Saints’ game to lose, and they lost it.

Five turnovers, including Pierre Thomas’ fumble on the one-yard line, killed the Saints, yet they were still in position to win if they could have stopped the 49ers on their final drive.


I gave the Giants a better chance than the 49ers to win this week, but was still surprised to see them advance.

Credit New York for bringing their A-game, but similar to the Saints game, I can’t help but feel that the Packers would beat the Giants eight times out of ten. Eight drops, four turnovers, a successful hail mary to end the first half and a secondary that simply couldn’t tackle cost the Packers.

Jermichael Finley is one of the biggest wastes of talent in the league; it doesn’t matter how great an athlete you are if you consistently drop the ball.


I picked the Patriots to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but nearly picked both the Steelers and Ravens over them when making my playoff bracket.

While I don’t put much stock into the Patriots beating a team without a winning record for the 14th time this season, I came away very unimpressed with the Ravens as they squirmed past the Texans on Sunday. A team with six three-and-outs in the first three quarters shouldn’t be in the conference championship game, a testament to the quality of the AFC this season.

Joe Flacco throws a nice deep ball but misfires on too many of his easier throws and seems to have difficulty going through his progressions. The Patriots should continue to throw heavy doses of soft zone defenses at Flacco, which will force him to make reads and consistently complete the underneath timing routes.

The NFC Championship game should be very exciting and I can’t decide who I think will win. I’d say the Giants are a little better than the 49ers, but I think the 49ers have the perfect formula for beating the Giants. The Giants defense is completely reliant on rushing the passer, but the 49ers don’t rely on the pass.

I’m curious to see if Tom Coughlin is stubborn enough to try and emphasize the run against the 49ers, which would be a terrible mistake. The Saints were one of the most effective teams running the ball this season and they ran on 14 of their 77 plays.

Comparing the two, the Giants O-line isn’t nearly as good as the Saints, Bradshaw isn’t as good as Sproles and Brandon Jacobs is one of the worst running backs in the league. He’s 264 pounds but his conversion rate when it comes to getting one yard on third or fourth down is below league average.

If I was the Giants coach, I’d put the game in Eli Mannings hands and hope for the best.